28 Reasons Being Legally Married Gay Dads Is Awesome!

June 18, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

Marriage equality currently sits on the Supreme Court’s docket, awaiting a final ruling. Though not assured, all signs point to same-sex marriage finally being legalized in the entire United States by month’s end.

I’ve put a lot of words on this site about same-sex marriage — about mine and others’; about the depiction, support and condemnation of gay marriage in the media and politics; and about its slow progression to acceptance…one ponderous magnet at a time.

Waiting with hopeful anticipation, I’m (nearly) at a loss for words. But many others are not — men who have shared their stories and their families with me over the last few years. Many who have become friends in this herky-jerky journey of being a gay man and a father. I’ve pulled together a fraction of the tales that have paved the long, bumpy road to equality — and the reasons these dads love (or look forward to) being married.

So as we await SCOTUS’ decision, please join me in wishing these dads and their children a long-overdue, exceptionally, abundantly awesome (and legally married), Happy Fathers’ Day!

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1. Your Love Knows No Bounds…or Boundaries

Brian & Ferd, married 6/10/13, Toronto; moving back to New York City in July. [Photo courtesy of Brian Rosenberg]

28 Reasons Being Legally Married Gay Dads Is Awesome!

Brian and Ferd were married on their 20th anniversary as a couple. Several years earlier they had moved to Toronto from New York, as Ferd was coming on the end of his legal status in the US (he’s Dutch). Six days after their wedding in Canada, SCOTUS ruled that they could now get married in the US and both be eligible for federal benefits of marriage. Brian can now sponsor his husband for permanent residency, and the couple is moving back to New York next month. Welcome back, guys!
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2. It Seals the Deal

Bryce & Boaz, married 6/12/11, Washington DC. [Photo courtesy of Bryce Stephens]

legally married gay dads

Daughter Nina was born in Ohio in 2013, but the state’s non-recognition of out-of-state marriages meant that only one dad (Bryce) could adopt in Ohio; Boaz did a second parent adoption in DC. The couple are looking forward to a favorable Supreme Court ruling so that they can put both dads on Nina’s birth certificate.

“Being a gay dad isn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I thought we would be painfully visible. We are visible, but in a very normal way. Folks come up to us, talk to us about our daughter — but in the same way that folks talk to other parents about their children.” – Bryce
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3. It Makes Life Simpler

Jerry & Drew, married 1/10/14, New York. [Photo courtesy of Jerry Mahoney]

legally married gay dads

Being legally married makes family so much easier to explain.
Old way: “I don’t have a wife, I have a partner… A man… We’re raising kids together. They’re his and mine.”
New Way: “I don’t have a wife. I have a husband.” Done.
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4. You Get to Build Your Family, Your Way

Steve & Scott, commitment ceremony 2003, Minnesota; legally married 7/31/14, Pennsylvania. [Photos courtesy of Steve Nichols Berg]

legally married gay dads

Scott and Steve had a large ceremony with family and friends in 2003, then work took them across the country. The couple jokes that they’ve lived in Iowa, Minnesota and Washington, but moved away just before same-sex marriage became legal in each state.

They’ve since been legally married in Philadelphia, where neighbors have become surrogate family members, and they’ve all “adopted” each other during holidays and other special occasions.

To make their son aware of the significance of all their moves, makeshift family, and the progression of marriage equality in the country, the family traveled to DC in 2013 to witness the Prop8 and DOMA rulings on the steps of the Supreme Court. They hope to return to DC in time for the new ruling.
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5. You Can Put Your Marriage Where Your Mouth Is…or Something Like That

Andy & Brian, together 12 years, awaiting legal marriage, Texas. [Photo courtesy of Andy Miller]

legally married gay dads

“We will be able to talk to our son about how meaningful and wonderful marriage can be when you find the person you want to spend your life with. And when he asks if we are married, we’ll have a better answer than, ‘Uhmmmm….’” – Andy
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6. There’s Safety in Numbers

Rob & Reece, married 3/28/10, Washington DC. [Photo courtesy of Rob Chasteen Scheer]

legally married gay dads

Rob and Reece got married shortly after it became legal in DC, in large part to gain extra security for their four children they’d adopted through the foster care system. Yet Rob recalls finding Reece sitting on the couch crying after the Prop 8 and DOMA rulings. When asked if he was alright, Reece replied that he was crying because for once he felt totally safe.

Rob explains further, “Even though we had a marriage certificate, it wasn’t until the Supreme Court ruling that we really felt the effects — that Reece, being a stay-at-home dad, would be taken care of if anything were to happen to me.”

Here’s to even more security, safety and celebration…
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7. You Call It As You See It

Forest & Kert, marriage ceremony 6/25/05, New Jersey; legally married 7/12/13, Maryland. [Photo courtesy of Forest Rawls-Blodgett]

legally married gay dads

“I love the fact that we are recognized as a couple and a family…and I can say ‘this is my awesome husband’…and it really means exactly that!” – Forest

Family wedding selfie by son Roman.
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8. You Get to Have All the Weddings!

Steven & David, domestic partnership 7/3/04; civil union 10/10/10; married 11/11/13, New Jersey. [Photos courtesy of Steven Birkland]

legally married gay dads

Steven and David are Jersey Strong… and determined! They first got hitched when domestic partnerships became available in their home state; then again when civil unions were legalized (top photo); and finally when full marriage equality was granted in the Garden State (bottom left photo). Their twin girls were born the next year (bottom right photo), resting securely in their dads’ many matrimonies.

As Steven told me, “[Getting married three times] definitely proves our commitment to each other… or that we should be committed!”
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9. So. Many. Cute. Outfits!

Juan & Patrick, married 4/18/2015, Florida. [Photos courtesy of Juan Luque Duffy]

legally married gay dads

Patrick and Juan got married earlier this year, once same-sex marriage became legal in Florida — after 4 children and 5 years together, the couple wanted to protect their relationship and their family. But they also wanted to celebrate! When one dad is an architect/creative director and the other is a dermatologist, you know you’re in for a beautiful event…from the venue to the photography, right down to the suits and dress worn by their adorable kids. Beautiful in every way.
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10. You Get to Experience the World Together

Andrew & Michael, May 2004, Toronto. [Photo courtesy of Andrew Mason]

legally married gay dads

Dad Michael is American, Dad Andrew is Canadian, daughter Libby refers to herself as “Camerican.” Due to their differing citizenships, varying laws regarding marriage, and a job loss, Andrew had to go back to school (though he was well-qualified for work) in order to get a visa that allowed him to live in the States with his family. He’s since gotten a Master’s degree, is working through a TN visa, and plans to pursue citizenship once marriage equality passes.

“We love introducing our daughter to new experiences in our travels, especially since my husband and I didn’t have those opportunities when we were her age. Libby’s world view is so much broader than ours was, and she has a much clearer understanding of the world at large.” – Andrew
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11. Misery Loves Company…and a Good Sense of Humor

Mitch & Peter, married September 2012, NY. [Photo courtesy of Mitch Chaitin]

legally married gay dads

Mitch and Peter got married in their Rabbi’s office in 2012, with their 9-year-old son serving as best man.

A fellow blogger, Mitch writes about their life as married, same-sex parents, “so that the world knows our ‘gay’ family is not that different from their ‘straight’ family… We are just as miserable as they are!”
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12. Home Is Where The Heart Is

Brad & Nick, ceremony 5/16/14, legalized 6/9/14, Wisconsin. [Photo courtesy of Brad Schlaikowski]

legally married gay dads

Brad, Nick and family were the “cover boys” from last year’s Awesome Father’s Day post, showing up as the preview image on Facebook and as the featured photo when the story re-ran on The Huffington Post. The dads had a big ceremony last year, in their home state of Wisconsin. They had planned to drive to Iowa after their honeymoon to make the marriage legal, but upon their return it had been legalized in Wisconsin as well!

Since last year, they’ve added another to their family, adopting their daughter in January of 2015.
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13. And Sometimes You’re a Singular Sensation

Christopher, single dad to 12-year-old daughter. [Photo courtesy of Christopher Harris]

legally married gay dads

Yes, this list is celebrating marriage equality, but it’s also celebrating Father’s Day. And single fathers (like single moms) deserve double the props for being doubly awesome… every single day of the year.

“Becoming a gay dad in the heart of the South (Nashville, TN) wasn’t easy. It took three adoption agencies over the course of three years. However, it’s been so worth it since. Parenting has been a joy… with lots of work, too!” – Christopher
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14. The Right to Life, Liberty, and Just as Boring* a Ceremony as Anyone Else

Brian & Greg, ceremony 3/4/2006, awaiting legal marriage, Tennessee. [Photo courtesy of Brian Copeland]

legally married gay dads

As same-sex marriage is still not recognized in Tennessee, Greg and Brian had to go through four adoptions for their two children (Tennessee also doesn’t recognize same-sex co-parenting, so each dad had to adopt each child individually). The process was expensive, stressful and unbelievably bureaucracy-filled.

Brian shares, I look forward to the day when our Tennessee families will be treated the same in this process as every other married couple in the state.”

*Note son Micah yawning up a storm while his dads exchange vows.
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15. Best Birthday Present, Ever

Wesley & Scott, married 11/27/14, Minnesota. [Photo courtesy of Wesley Cayler]

legally married gay dads

After celebrating oldest daughter Nikka’s birthday last year, dads Wesley and Scott sat her in a chair in the middle of the room. They explained that when they adopted her, they told her they would be a ‘forever family.’ They told her family meant “unconditional love and support, and that we would be there for each other, no matter what.”

Scott continued, “There’s one more thing that hasn’t been done, and one more present we have for you.”

With family and friends already in attendance for the birthday (including an ordained cousin), Scott and Wesley proceeded to read vows, exchange rings, and get married, fulfilling their promise to be family, forever.
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16. It’s Indescribable. But Not Really.

Henry & Joel, married 10/10/09, Massachusetts. [Photo courtesy of Henry Amador-Batten]

legally married gay dads

After being married in Massachusetts, Henry and Joel went on to live unrecognized in their home state of North Carolina for five years. It became legal there on October 10th, 2014 — the couple’s five year anniversary to the day!

“Being a gay man is awesome; being a gay married man is amazing; being a gay, married man, and a father is unbelievable. But being a legally married gay man and father means that our family is recognized, safe and complete, and that simply can’t be described.” – Henry

I don’t know… that was pretty good.
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17. Bowties for Everybody!

David & Brad, married 5/8/15, Pennsylvania. [Photo courtesy of David D’Amico]

legally married gay dads

David gets right to the heart of it all… “Being a married gay father means that we are now equal to our heterosexual counterparts…plus we get to wear these adorable bowties.”
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18. Aaaaat Last…

Michael & Craig, plan to marry next year on 20th anniversary, Maryland. [Photos courtesy of Michael Bobbitt]

legally married gay dads

Michael and Craig have been together nearly 20 years, and are planning a wedding ceremony in their home state of Maryland to celebrate and make things “official.”

Like any couple that has been together that long, it’s amazing to look back and see what all you’ve experienced together during that time. Case in point, Michael sent these photos of he and Craig meeting their son Sang (in front of the South China Sea) and a more recent photo, in front of the children’s theater where Michael is Artistic Director.
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19. Father’s Day Cards Are Cool and All…

Tom & Tod, commitment ceremony 8/4/01, Michigan; married 8/4/08, California; awaiting recognition in home state of Michigan. [Photo courtesy of Tom McMillen-Oakley. Photo by Seth Duimstra]

legally married gay dads

Tom and Tod and are both the legal parents of daughter Anna, due to a second parent adoption done shortly after her birth. But for son Eli, they were unable to secure a second parent adoption for Tom, even though he and his sister are legal siblings and the couple are legally married in California.

Tom, on Father’s Day, “The cards that my kids give me each year are truly precious and mean the world to me. But the papers securing my rights as their dad mean much more than just a Hallmark greeting. They mean security, they mean stability, they mean financial benefit, they mean so many different things. To get that on Fathers’ Day, that would be the best gift ever.”
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20. Aaaaat Last… (Part 2)

Mark & Kevin, awaiting marriage in Tennessee. [Photo courtesy of Mark Dickerson]

legally married gay dads

Mark and Kevin have been very blessed to be together over 30 years and have adopted two sons. They live in Tennessee where same-sex marriage is not yet legal, but they’re excited about the possibility and the protections and benefits it would offer their family.
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21. Lunchmeat and Matrimony? Bonus!

John & Franky, married 1/6/15, Florida. [Photo courtesy of John Duffy]

legally married gay dads

Their wedding took place shortly after midnight on January 6th of this year — the day same-sex marriage became legal in Florida. They gathered at a local government building with over 100 other couples. While they had already been fathers for nearly four years, this was their first official commitment of any sort. It was also their first time using a deli-style number counter for something other than a sandwich. Their marriage was #A26.

“The greatest thing about being married gay dads is probably the same as being a married straight dad, or gay mom, or straight mom: Finally being part of a loving family,” John shared. “But also, there’s no women in  our house to tell us fart jokes aren’t funny.”
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22. 2 Dads + 2 Daughters = So Many Daddy’s Girl Combos!

Jeff & Silvio; legally married 9/9/14, VT; ceremony 10/9/14, Maryland. [Photo courtesy of Jeff Weisner]

legally married gay dads

Full disclosure: not only do I have the pleasure of being friends with Jeff and Silvio, I also designed their family album that was shown to potential birth parents. I feel honored to know I played a small part in them ultimately becoming dads to adorable sisters Maddie and Ella. There’ve never been a pair of luckier daddy’s girls!
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23. It Makes You (Officially) One Big Happy Family

Manny & Jose, domestic partners, March 2011; awaiting adoptions to finalize, New York. [Photo courtesy of Manny Velasquez-Paredes]

legally married gay dads

Manny and Jose became domestic partners just before New York approved marriage equality. They were in the process of planning their wedding when their two children came along, via foster care. Due to complications relating to birthparents, they’ve been fighting to adopt their 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son for the last four years. They hope to finalize the adoption this year and get married on the same day. Or as Manny put it, “Go in as individuals in a family, and come out as a family unit.”
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24. Weddings? Expensive and Time-Consuming. Having Your Kids Be a Part of Your Wedding? Priceless.

John & Tony, civil union, 2005, California; planning to wed in Florida. [Photo courtesy of Tony Fortier]

legally married gay dads

“We never thought we’d be able to have children since Florida always had a ban on gay adoption. So, with years of preparation and many professionals/surrogate/donor/fertility teams/legal teams/etc. involved, we had our first child Nate, via surrogate in California,” Tony explains.

Though they also had a civil union in California, the couple has always longed to marry in their home state of Florida. Same-sex marriage became legal there in January 2015, but with newborn twins, they busy dads haven’t had time to plan a wedding just yet. When they do, they’re excited to be able include all four of their kids in the ceremony — and I’m excited to see the photos!
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25. In Sickness and in Health…

Wayne & Jay, married 4/26/10, Iowa. [Photo courtesy of Wayne Franklin]

legally married gay dads

Jay was diagnosed with inoperable cancer on New Year’s Eve of 2009. Because the couple couldn’t yet legally wed in their home state of Illinois at that time, they traveled to neighboring Iowa, where it had become legal in April of ‘09. They were married on April 26, 2010, in a ceremony that was special to them and their son in so many ways. Jay passed away a little over five months later on Sept 30, 2010.
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26. You’re a Family in Any State (Or Will Be Very Soon)

Daniel & AJ, married 6/9/09, Iowa. [Photo courtesy of Daniel Edge]

legally married gay dads

Daniel and AJ were married in 2009 in Des Moines, Iowa, though they resided in North Carolina at the time. They ended up moving to Iowa the next year, when they learned that AJ could adopt the boys as a second parent there — North Carolina only allowed one same-sex parent to adopt. They’ve moved a couple of times since then for work, to Illinois and now live in New Jersey.

Daniel says the best part of being legally married is “…having both of our names on the birth certificates…absolute certainty that our family is secure regardless of where in the nation we travel.”

He adds, “For couples and parents in states that don’t yet recognize same-sex marriage, we continue to support them in their fight and do what we can, by keeping it as a focus of conversation with friends, family, and our children.”
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27. You’re in It Together, Forever

Raymond & Ezekial, married 8/8/13, Massachusetts; awaiting recognition in home state of Louisiana. [Photo courtesy of Raymond Poliquit-Moore. Photo by Nancy C. Faria]

legally married gay dads

Raymond and Ezekial were married at Family Week in Provincetown, MA in 2013, though it’s not yet legal or recognized in their home of Louisiana.

Raymond explained, “We did this for our son Dylan — so he can see that we are here for each other and for him ‘till death do us part.’ This is especially important to children joining families from the foster care system.”
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28. You’ve Already Got a Built-In Ring Bearer…or Bell-Ringer, Whatevs

Brent & Nick; commitment ceremony 11/1/03; married 4/26/14, Maryland. [Photo courtesy of me. Photo by Piper Watson]

legally married gay dads

I’ve written enough about our wedding and the events leading up to it to fill a book, so I won’t bore you with a rehash (that’s why God created links). But please indulge me as I share my favorite wedding-related story once more…

I woke Jon the morning of his third birthday to tell him Papa and I would now be able to get married (it had been decided by popular vote the night before in Maryland). I excitedly told him he’d get to be the ring bearer. Confused, he asked, “I’m get to ring the bell?”

So that’s what we did. In lieu of a ring bearer (we’d had rings for 10+ years), upon our pronouncement as husbands, Jon rang a big, silver bell. This was then echoed by everyone in attendance, who’d been given smaller bells upon arrival. It was the best part of the best day, to have our son ringing through the spring air that his daddies were (at long last) married.
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My heartfelt thanks to all the dads who sent their photos and shared their stories. I get bogged down in daily life sometimes, and this was such a thrill for me to be reminded of how far we’ve come as a community, as men, and as fathers. Happy Fathers’ Day, guys!

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comments

10 responses to “28 Reasons Being Legally Married Gay Dads Is Awesome!”

  1. Emily H. says:

    Thank you for this awesome post!

  2. Tom says:

    So many handsome fellas in this post!
    Thanks for doing this Brent, what a great gift for us all.
    T

  3. Kay says:

    Awesome post! So much love shown here, and I am so happy for the families who have been able to marry and am hoping the others will be able to soon. Fun to see my friend Steve Nichols Berg and his lovely family included here!

  4. PG says:

    Truly inspiring! U up for doing another family album?

  5. Cait says:

    This is everything, what beautiful stories and families. It is so moving to see how marriage equality is not only for the couples, but for many children, as well.

    Thank you!!

  6. Kim Fielding says:

    What beautiful families!

  7. Alyce Johnson says:

    Such a beautiful group of families and their stories. I am especially fond of family #26! That’s my son, Daniel’s family. <3

  8. M. Thomas says:

    Beyond Horrible.
    How confusing to little innocent children. Two men don’t work. The parts don’t fit. Basic anatomy. Children were designed to have the love of a father and a MOTHER.
    My heart breaks for the future of little children today.
    Gentlemen: start your LGBT hate comments engines.

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